Is "Brand" Still Important In Travel Marketing?

Not too long ago, I had a conversation with a promotion-minded travel marketer who argued that the concepts of brand and brand positioning are dead — relics of the bygone era of package goods.

According to his hypothesis, social media has completely undermined the ability of marketers to define what they stand for, so what’s the point? Consumers will believe what they want to and we can’t do anything to change it.

Now that everything is transparent, he asserted, the consumer can see through all the hype and manipulative tactics. What any brand stands for has become irrelevant - everything will eventually become a commodity that humans will judge solely on its ability to meet functional needs.

As he finished the Pumpkin Spice Latte he paid way too much for, he looked at me and exclaimed, “I love Starbucks, don’t you?”

Point well taken.


Vivid mental imagery defines meaningful differences

One of the advertising tools we use to create desire for resorts and attractions is “vivid mental imagery.” Carefully chosen words and images tell the brand story, and help travelers imagine what it’s like to visit a destination. They can also help define points of differentiation and elevate one destination above the rest of the category.

There’s a danger in relying on images to differentiate your resort, however. Photos of your resort (your beautiful sand, sea, snow, sky, pools, etc.) may look a lot like your competitors’ photos (their beautiful sand, sea, snow, sky, pools, etc.). It’s easy to think that your resort’s offerings are one of a kind when in truth, they’re kind of one and the same.

Words on the other hand can tell a story that photos can’t deliver on their own. Stories engage consumers, and help travelers picture themselves in a place. And text can describe an experience without defining it so narrowly that it excludes people (unlike photos that viewers may or may not relate to). Imagination is a powerful tool, and we always leverage words that stimulate and inspire mental imagery.

Of course we still use photos in advertising, but not the visual clichés and easy set ups that blur the distinctions between destinations. Instead, we use photos that capture the mood, feeling and special moments that travelers can experience only at your destination.

So choose your words and pictures wisely, and let imagination distinguish your destination from all those look alikes.